Fredric Warburg (1898-1981) was a distant relative of the wealthy American Warburgs. He attended British “public” schools where he excelled academically but as a Jew, often felt an outsider, finding refuge in his love of books. After serving in World War I as an artillery officer, he graduated from Oxford with a degree in classics and philosophy.
Warburg stumbled into publishing at Routledge & Sons where he spent 13 years. In 1936, he and a partner acquired the publishing firm of Martin Secker. Renamed Secker & Warburg, it became known as anti-fascist and anti-communist, publishing André Gide’s Back from the USSR and George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. From then on Secker & Warburg published all of Orwell’s books and Orwell and Warburg became intimate friends. Warburg published some 2,000 books by several hundred authors, including Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984, works by H. G. Wells, Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Simone de Beauvoir, Colette, Alberto Moravia, Günter Grass, Pierre Boulle’s The Bridge over the River Kwai and William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
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